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How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Landing an interview in today's competitive job market is quite an accomplishment. Some job hunters can spend months searching for the perfect position, sending out dozens of resumes and then waiting hopefully for a phone call.

As soon as the good news of an interview arrives, it is the right time to begin preparing for the event. Most job candidates work very hard to get to this stage, yet a surprising majority sabotage their chances for a successful interview. When a candidate walks into a job interview completely unprepared, the likelihood of getting the position decreases tremendously.

Preparing for the interview in advance is valuable opportunity to stand out and set yourself apart from the other candidates. It can be an easy task that pays big dividends in the end. When the goal is to make the best possible impression, the kind that leads to a job offer, these steps will help to give you every advantage:

  • Research the company

    In the beginning, the only thing you may have to work with is a help wanted advertisement in the newspaper. If you are unfamiliar with a company's products or services, start with the basics. Find out everything you can about them. How long have they been in business? Is there more than one location? Are they financially stable? What are their plans for growth or expansion? Who are the key leaders in the operation? Knowing this type of information prior to the interview will allow you to make important career decisions. It may or not be a good fit for your career plans. If the company is good fit, being informed will let the interviewer know that you are interested.

  • Prepare a list of questions

    One of the common mistakes candidates make in an interview is to arrive unprepared with questions. Making a list of thoughtful, intelligent questions in advance will not only indicate interest in the company, but it will show that you are organised and professional. Avoid question about salary, benefits, vacations and such. Those types of questions should be saved for later. Asking good questions that establish a rapport with the interviewer can lead to longer discussions and can help secure an offer.

  • Make a test trip

    One of the worst feelings imaginable is knowing how hard you have worked to get an interview then arriving late for the occasion. Unfortunately, it happens all the time and can cost you the job – no matter how skilled you are. Potential employers rarely overlook tardiness, especially before a candidate is hired. Map out the location ahead of time and take a test trip to see how long it takes to get to the interview location. Allow for traffic and other possible delays. Then plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time so you can relax and collect your thoughts before being seen.

  • Plan your wardrobe

    It may sound like a simple task but again, it is one of the most overlooked factors in the interview process. The general rules for interview attire and preparation is to be neat, conservatively dressed and well groomed. The time to make a fashion statement, if you choose, is after you've been hired – not before. The best policy is to err on the side of caution and play it safe when it comes to proper business attire. Another point in the preparation phase is to have a clean suit ready and waiting in the event you are called in for a last-minute interview. No one wants to be caught off guard if someone would like to see the same day.

  • Bring along your credentials

    Always go to an interview with extra copies of your resume or portfolio. Some employers may ask for identification or other documents. If there is a possibility that you will be asked to show work samples, bring those along as well. It helps to have a list of your references with current contact information. It isn't necessary to carry a briefcase, a neatly organized folder will do. The key factor is that you're prepared with whatever documents are relevant for employment.

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